Tyler Callantine – Owner of Dinosaur River Expeditions

Live a healthy lifestyle, exercise, enjoy the outdoors, spend quality time with family and friends, eat healthy food (splurge once in a while).”

Tyler Callantine is the owner and operator of Dinosaur River Expeditions. Dinosaur River Expeditions is Vernal, Utah’s only locally owned and operated white water river rafting outfitter. Tyler has 25 years of experience guiding river rafting trips on major rivers all over the western United States. This passion has lead him to the point of owning his own whitewater outfitting company where he is able to share his passion with his guests and employees. Tyler began his guiding career right here in Vernal, Utah as a young 20 year old. He ran river trips in the summer months and coached alpine ski racing in the winter. This was a perfect balance for a young single adventure seeker. Tyler married his love Jen and the opportunity to purchase Dinosaur River Expeditions came up 7 years ago. They took the bold step of becoming business owners and have built a thriving and successful whitewater river rafting guide business that has an excellent returning guide staff and a wonderful clientele that returns for trips year after year.

Where did the idea for Dinosaur Rivers Expeditions come from?

I had been guiding river rafting trips for 16 years for a different company. My wife and I were looking at our options for our future what type of work would best fit our lifestyle. We ran into Dinosaur River Expeditions previous owner at the ski hill and had coffee with him in the day lodge. During our conversation he mentioned he was looking to retire and was trying to sell Dinosaur River. On the drive home Jen and I discussed the possibility of purchasing his company. It was a great opportunity to take our love of river rafting and the outdoors to build our own company where we could share our passion. Everything fell into place and we were able to purchase Dinosaur River Expeditions and hit the ground running. We have spent the last seven years building into our company and have seen huge growth and success.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My day at Dinosaur River Expeditions starts fairly early, around 6:00 a.m.. If there is a rafting trip going out that day it starts with organizing vehicles, trailers and rafting equipment while guides pack food for the days lunch. Followed up with greeting the days guests and taking care of final check in procedures and paperwork. Once a trip has departed the day can be varied depending on what type of trips are coming up, what rafting trips are out on the river and what staff is in the warehouse for that day. If there is a four or five day trip coming up there is a major grocery shop that occurs to feed 25 people for that trip. There could be a multi day trip coming off the river that day and we need to prepare for meeting guests at the drop off point. Each day is full from the start of the day to the end of the day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I came into the ownership of Dinosaur River Expeditions with a solid understanding and background of how a major river rafting outfit runs and operates. So our first year was adjusting the organization of the gear, equipment and staff to fit my view of how to operate day to day. I have a long term vision of a company that has a uniform look and feel to it no matter what trip or segment of the operation it is. For a small business this cannot happen overnight. As we purchase and update equipment, gear, supplies we are working towards having a consistent look to the overall company. Bringing this to life starts with the idea or concept, possibly writing it down, researching the options to get there and having a plan in place to make the idea a reality.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

We live in a corner of Utah that is a sleeper community for outdoor recreation and tourism. Currently, Dinosaur National Monument is the main draw for tourism. Utah has a booming tourist economy and Vernal, Utah is seeing a larger number of visitors each summer discovering our rivers, desert, mountains and all that our area has to offer.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Getting up early and working hard everyday, no matter what the task is.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Do a better job at saving money and planning for retirement.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on

That Utah is awesome. Well, many people will agree that Utah has amazing qualities, but few from outside of the state grasp the wonder that is available to explore. Especially within eastern Utah. Even with Utah gaining more national attention for “Silicon Slopes” and other tech investments, there is still a stereotype of Utah being a giant hick-town state. Yet, there is so much more to Utah to share with tourists and adventure seekers.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Live a healthy lifestyle, exercise, enjoy the outdoors, spend quality time with family and friends, eat healthy food (splurge once in a while).

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Dedication. To succeed, we put all of our finances on the line. If we failed we would have been financially devastated. We learned everything we could about running a business, we hired professionals to do the jobs we did not have the skills to do and hired the best staff that we could.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

We are constantly learning, whether we have had failures or not I am unsure. We had an employee last year that did not work out. During the interview process we believed he would be great. However, upon his arrival to work we quickly learned he was not as capable in the outdoors as he lead us to believe. From this we learned that we need to change how we interview and hire, become more diligent in the process so we do not have inexperienced employees operating our trips.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Tourism is booming in the western U.S. states. Look for a small town that is up and coming for tourism, look for an opportunity that currently does not exist in that town (whether it is guiding, outfitting, sales, food service) and go for it. My best friend did this in Moab and cannot keep up with the business that he has generated. Moab was already an established tourist town but he saw a business that did not exist and went for it.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)

A week long surf board rental in Hanalei Bay, Kauai. Surfing is amazing and is incredible during the winter in Hanalei Bay.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Google products. We have access to most of our information anywhere we have internet access. Google has created web services and software that makes it easy to work from anywhere.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Let My People Go Surfing” by Yvon Chonaird. It is a book about being a leader in the business world and how to create a successful work environment for all involved.

What is your favorite quote?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”-Helen Keller



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